The Longer Read

Could Iran tip the Middle East into all-out war?

Iran may have denied being involved in Hamas’s deadly attacks on Israel. But its backing of what Tehran calls ‘the axis of resistance’ makes clear the country will have a major influence on whether the Israel Gaza conflict becomes a regional crisis, writes Sanam Vakil

Tuesday 07 November 2023 10:01 GMT
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<p>Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reviews a group of armed forces cadets during their graduation ceremony in Tehran in October </p>

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reviews a group of armed forces cadets during their graduation ceremony in Tehran in October

From the outset of the 7 October attacks on Israel, Iran’s support for Hamas and its broader regional goals – including, most importantly, its long-standing hostility towards Israel – have come into sharp focus.

Questions over Tehran’s direct role in the attacks have been quickly quashed by US and Israeli officials. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, also denied involvement. And in a much-anticipated speech, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah also claimed that Hamas was directly and solely responsible.

But these denials neither exonerate Tehran nor promise that a broader conflict is not on the horizon. Rather, it serves as a stark reminder that Iran’s regional strategy and broader objectives are a key destabilising force in the region that requires a coordinated regional and international response.

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